1. Put reminders in your calendar for any forms or annual monitoring you need to do. It’s very easy to forget with everything you are doing!
2. You don’t have to just get advice from people in your supervisory team. Other members of staff / researchers can provide you really useful guidance!
3. Collect data in your first semester. It doesn’t matter if you don’t end up using this in your final thesis but will give you some data that you can present at conferences that year.
4. You probably won’t actually know what your thesis is about or how its going to come together until your last year. If you feel like you have no idea what you are doing, thats fine. Just keep doing stuff and collecting data, you’ll be able to piece it together.
5. Try and present as much as you can. Don’t be afraid of criticism, use it as an opportunity to defend or improve your work. If someone asks you a difficult question at a conference, it means they have listened and paid attention to your presentation.
6. Write up your method section for each study and justification as to why you picked that method as you go. You don’t want to have to remember what you did 2 years later.
7. You will have failed experiments. This does not mean that your going to fail your PhD or that you’ve wasted your time. Try something else.
8. Read a lot, but don’t read yourself into a black hole where you are no longer collecting data because you have too many ideas. Supervisors can help you focus your attention if you feel like you are going in this direction.
9. You will face rejection of some form. This does not mean you are a terrible researcher. Just try again or refine what you have in light of reviewer comments (normally this does actually make the work better). See it as an opportunity to get feedback from an expert opinion.
10. Do things outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to publish/ share an idea you are not sure about, or avoid or applying for something you don’t think you’ll get. If it looks hard to do or makes you feel a bit nervous, just go for it.
11. Network, on twitter or at conferences. It will help you understand where your research fits in the current environment. You can also follow peoples updates on twitter/ research gate e.t.c so you can keep up to date with the latest advancements in your field.
12. Set up a google scholar profile once you start publishing. This will help you keep track of citations. Also follow your papers altimetric score to see where work has been mentioned on social media or in the news.
13. Don’t be afraid to challenge your supervisor. Whilst they have invaluable advice, you might have a really good idea too.
14. People will tell you to do lots of different things as a researcher, and sometimes give you completely opposing or contradictory advice from stuff you’ve heard before. You cannot do everything so use your best judgement and pick what you feel is best.
15. Do put effort into your ethics applications. This is one of the things which can halt or prevent you from collecting data.
16. Don’t be afraid to email an academic to say you like their work without no other reason to contact them. You will be amazed by the conversations you will have.